Video Abstract – “The Garbage of Society”: Disposable Women and the Socio-Spatial Scripts of Femicide in Guatemala

We’re pleased to present an important video abstract, and accompanying “Policy Brief”, by Lorena Fuentes, author of “The Garbage of Society”: Disposable Women and the Socio-Spatial Scripts of Femicide in Guatemala. Published last month in Antipode 52(6), Lorena’s paper explores the processes of meaning-making around femicide in Guatemala, highlighting how particular bodies and spaces are pre-figured as “disposable” through racialized and gendered imaginaries.

Using Judith Butler’s thinking on discourse, violence, and bodies, and Indigenous and feminist scholarship from Guatemala and the Americas, it analyses why femicides are scripted differently for victims who emerge in “public” spatial formations. Grounded in analysis of the main national newspaper’s reporting and the state’s regulatory framework around violence, and supplemented with interviews and ethnographic observations that emerged in the context of a high-profile “private” femicide, Lorena argues that “public” victims are read relationally against two subjects who – through reactivated historical scripts of violence – help communicate public victims’ disposability. Her paper contributes a rich account of the socio-spatial logics informing how bodies matter in Guatemala; more broadly, it emphasises the productive work of states and powerful institutions like the media in reinforcing hierarchies between victims of femicide.

Este artículo explora los procesos mediante los cuales se interpreta el femicidio en Guatemala, enfatizando los imaginarios racistas y sexistas que prefiguran ciertos cuerpos y espacios como “desechables”. Mi trabajo se basa en epistemologías Butlerianas de la violencia y las obras de mujeres indígenas y feministas de Guatemala y las Américas, con el fin de analizar la manera particular en que se presentan los casos de víctimas de femicidio que emergen de formaciones espaciales “públicas”. Basándome en un análisis de reportajes del periódico de mayor circulación en el país y las políticas estatales alrededor de la violencia, suplementado con entrevistas y observaciones etnográficas que emergieron en el contexto de un caso considerado de alto impacto, sostengo que las víctimas “públicas” se presentan en relación a dos sujetos quienes – a través de discursos históricos reactivados – comunican la desechabilidad de las víctimas “públicas”. Este artículo brinda un recuento de las lógicas socioespaciales que informan el significado de los cuerpos en Guatemala; en términos más generales, enfatiza el trabajo productivo de los estados y de instituciones poderosas como los medios de comunicación, para reforzar las jerarquías de las víctimas de femicidio.

Lorena Fuentes is Co-Founder and Principal of the feminist research consultancy Ladysmith. Through Ladysmith – which helps international and humanitarian organisations collect, analyse, and take action on gender data – she has published a “Policy Brief” to accompany her Antipode paper and this video abstract; “Femicide and the Media: Do Reporting Practices Normalize Gender-Based Violence?” can be downloaded here and from

Lorena’s research explores [i] the role of gender norms in shaping and constraining responses to violence and insecurity, and [ii] the promises and limitations of different types of gender data for generating visibility and political action around gender-based violence. She earned her PhD from the University of London, Birkbeck, and is currently a Lecturer at the International Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. @LF_Ladysmith